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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Creative Containers - The last class

Tonight is our last Adult Education class on gardening. Our topic will be "Creative Containers" and we will be using different plant material with an assortment of containers. I saved this class for last strictly because of the calendar, I could not have gotten annuals before this week.

Considering the fact that everybody is feeling a pinch in their wallets, I thought I'd look at this topic a whole new way and try to come up with some cost effective arrangements. This morning we'll take a peek at the plant material. Later I'll show you what containers I decided to use and finally, the plant combinations.

The first photo shows a tray of "specialty annuals" I bought at Schmitt Farm on Bagatelle Rd. in Dix Hills. If you live on Long Island I highly recommend this place for these types of plants and hanging baskets. It's a family run flower farm and their prices are very competitive. I bought 13 4" pots and 1 6" pot (with the rex begonia). The 4" pots are $3.39 unless you buy 10 or more, then they are $3.20. The Rex begonia was $6.99 which I thought was pricey but I really wanted it.

Here you can see the Rex Begonia. They also had this plant in jumbo pots for $15.99 but they were very dried out and I was afraid the plants were too stressed so I went for the smaller pot. I could see though that they can grow quite large so it helped me decide what to do with this plant in my garden. I plan on using it in a whiskey barrel in a shady area.

Try as I might, I could not find a companion plant that worked with this. The first problem was that this plant needs to be in a shaded location. I thought I had a plant at home that would work and I was right but you'll have to wait for our weather to cooperate before I can plant this.

This flat of annuals came from Prianti Farms on Deer Park Avenue (also in Dix Hills). When it comes to old fashioned annual in flats, this is the place to shop. Prianti Farms is one of the few places that lets you mix and match individual cell packs of plants. Many other places no longer allow you to take the flats apart.

Prianti Farms has plants that are amazingly fresh, they move them in by the truck load and have plenty of workers constantly stocking the sales area. It was so neat and clean that I couldn't find an empty tray to carry my plants in. One young man was so helpful and immediately ran off to get me one.

This photo is deceiving because there are different types of cell packs in it. Some are four chambered packs and some are 6 chambered packs. You pay more for breaking up a flat like this so the total came to $19.

In total I spent $71 on plants which was really hard on me. I just thought it seemed like a lot of money for what is sitting on my dining room floor right now (it's only 31 degrees outside at this moment).

Here's a close up of half of the flat from Prianti. The red coleus might not have a fancy name but they will be just as beautiful in the garden and I got four of them for $1.89 compared to one plant for $3.20 in the 4" pots.

Here's a close-up of the other half of the flat. That single little pack of Alyssum scented my entire car on the short ride home. I need to go back next week and get a whole flat of those pretties.

See the dusky purple foliage in the bottom left corner? Those are 'Ruby Perfection' cabbage! I saw a photo recently of an amazing planter with these cabbages in them so I will give them a try.

Now comes the fun part. I'm going to scour my yard looking for things to use as containers tonight. Much as I'd like to bring in a Whiskey barrel, it is just too heavy for me. As it is, I'd never be able to do this class without the wonderful help I've been getting from the men at the school. Tonight might be a "two dolly" night.

One last note, yesterday I had a surprise visitor. One of you readers stopped by here with your adorable daughter. It was so nice to meet a fellow gardening fanatic and I can't wait for us to get together again soon!


garden girl said...

I'm looking forward to seeing the containers. Good luck with the last class Melanie!

Frances, said...

My mouth was watering with delight as those annuals were studied. Such a good selection and so healthy looking. They will make some wonderful container plantings. Can't wait to see what ended up with what.

Sylvia said...

Lovely post, really looking forward to the next installment. Though I did get confused by flats and chambered somethings! And I must get the calculator out to convert the dollars to pounds, I am dreadfully curious. Seriously I really enjoyed your post, thank you.

Best wishes Sylvia (England)

Karen said...

All are so lovely! I can't wait to see how your containers turn out. I'm anxious to start mine but weather hasn't been cooperating. :(

Gail said...

How did the class go? I am looking forward to the containers. BTW, Rex is a good looking plant.


Anna said...

You paid a lot but you got quality. And you got nice full plants. About that Rex, it likes to be on the dry side. I've seen it go dry for days and be happy. The more dry they are the more red they get. I've seen them completely ignored in the back of our nursery and not watered for weeks and keep on going strong. But then I've seen the ones in the front get overwatered and rot quickly.

You sure did a good job picking stuff out. The pinks, silvers, and purples will look smashing together. I had no doubt you would do a great job. Your challenge was to find stuff that showed how the color complemented each other. You did that very well. My pots don't do that yet cause they aren't full and blooming. So it was a challenge for you and you had to pay more to get that look instantly. You needed wow right now. Bravo!

Melanie said...

Linda, the last class was bittersweet for me. Everybody is so nice and I hate the thought of not seeing them again. I hope they keep in touch with me.

Frances, they really are healthy looking plants. I know the prices were high compared to other parts of the country but at least I'm getting a good product.

Sylvia, I wasn't sure if the terminology would translate. Here in the States we buy our annuals in a long tray called a "flat". Inside the flat are smaller packages called "cell packs". The cell packs have small chambers for the young plants. Some have 3 chambers, most have 4 chambers and some have 6 chambers. The plants are young and small but usually quite healthy and willing to grow.

Karen, I'm not sure I should plant these out. The next week's forecast isn't great but the nights are supposed to stay well above freezing so I'm going to go with my gut instinct and plant them.

Gail, that rex is a stunner, I will have to grow it on a bit and then take a better photo of it.

Anna, I'm glad to know that about Rex. Maybe I'll go back and get the larger pot as it was really fantastic looking. My challenge was to find plants that looked well together without considering the colors of the flowers, or if they even had flowers. One of the arrangements I put together was all foliage and no blooms. I'll take photos later today.